+Not many would’ve tipped Liverpool to win the Premier League title ahead of the 2016-17 season but there are not many who have performed as well so far. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City rightfully top the table after an unbeaten start to the season and five wins from five. Liverpool currently sit in sixth place and have picked up three wins, a draw and a loss in their first five fixtures. The performances have demonstrated inconsistency but the manner of Liverpool’s victories have given some indication to the high levels that the squad are capable are reaching.
The London clubs have made a bright start to the season, with Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal all sitting above Liverpool in the league table after the opening five fixtures but it’s the Reds’ record against these sides that have stood out as the most impressive part of their league campaign so far. When the fixtures list was revealed in June, most Liverpool fans would’ve been gasping in horror at one of the toughest starts to a season in years. In their opening five fixtures, they faced Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal away and had to host the reigning Premier League champions Leicester City at Anfield two weeks ago. A trip to Burnley was meant to be the rest bite but it proved to be the single downfall for Klopp’s side.
Liverpool picked up 7 points from their three London trips, including an opening day victory against Arsenal and a commanding three points against Chelsea. They should’ve secured all three against Tottenham too after producing one of their best performances under Klopp but a point away from home was still a positive outcome. It’s been a bright start overall and despite a horrific performance against Burnley which highlighted areas Liverpool still need to strengthen; there’s been plenty of attacking talent on show for fans to get excited about.
Klopp may not have the squads Mourinho, Conte and Guardiola have at their expense, but he does have an array of attacking talent to choose from and so far, he’s got the best out of the men in midfield. Jordan Henderson is statistically having the best season of his Reds’ career so far and although it’s still early days, the captain has started to embrace the unfamiliar holding role entrusted to him by Klopp. Alongside him, Georginio Wijnaldum has proved to be a shrewd addition and his off-the-ball ruthlessness and break-down play was particularly effective against Chelsea and Leicester City. Emre Can is still to make a regular return after being slowly brought back by Klopp after an injury-filled and busy international summer. Marko Grujic is another addition which has strengthened the Reds’ midfield and so far, there have been plenty of positives from Liverpool.
What’s been most eye-catching so far though is Liverpool’s attacking talent. Sadio Mane’s transfer from Southampton has proven to be one of the best in the league so far and the forward picked up the club’s Player of the Month award after hitting two goals and an assist, whilst producing a number of inspiring performances. His displays have been sublime so far and it’s helped his Brazilian teammate Roberto Firmino has been equally impressive. The two have been at the centre of everything positive for the Reds and if they continue in the form they’ve started, Liverpool’s attacking threat will be enough to terrorise the league’s best defences. The fact Daniel Sturridge has struggled to make the starting XI and there was debate over whether Philippe Coutinho should return to the team following the victory against Leicester City, shows just how deadly the Reds’ front line has been so far.
The only concern for the Reds still lies in their weak defence. It’s been a constant downfall for the Merseysiders in recent seasons and there’s still some improving to do. However, things are on the up for Klopp’s men. The arrival of Joel Matip has strengthened the centre of Liverpool’s defence and the former Schalke man has begun to build an organised partnership with Dejan Lovren. The two have looked fairly solid so far this season, although they were exploited heavily against Burnley when concentration levels were at an all-time low. Loris Karius made his competitive debut against Derby County on Tuesday evening and many Reds fans hope he’ll be the man to replace Simon Mignolet, whose mistakes have proved costly for Liverpool in the past. James Milner, though a right-sided midfielder by trade, has embraced the responsibility thrust upon him by Klopp to deliver at left-back in replace of the underperforming Alberto Moreno. The vice-captain is still making mistakes but each game has shown growth and development.
Liverpool’s squad is by no means the finished product but there’s plenty of potential and in just five games, Klopp has already demonstrated his side’s ability to improve and adapt his coaching style. The Reds’ advantage lies in their potential to grow even further and if Klopp can rinse the best out of his men, Liverpool could be a seriously strong force to reckon with.